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Positivepsychology

Whatthisfactsheetcovers: Whatispositivepsychology? Practicalstrategiestoincreaseyourlevelofhappiness Findingmeaning

Whatispositivepsychology?
Positivepsychologyisarelativelynewbranchofpsychologythatseekstounderstand positiveemotionssuchasjoy,optimismandcontentment.Positivepsychologyis interestedintheconditionsthatallowindividuals,groupsandorganisationsto flourish. Theimportantroleofpositiveemotions BarbaraFredricksonfromtheUniversityofMichiganclaimsthatpositiveemotions haveagrandpurposeinevolution.Positiveemotionalmindsetswidenourrangeof thoughtsandactions,fosteringplay,explorationandcreativity.Webecomeopento newideasandnewexperiences.Thesestateshelpuscreatelastingpersonal resources,suchassocialconnectionsandknowledge,whichwecanthendrawon duringtryingtimes. Canhappinessbeincreased? PsychologistMartinSeligmanbecamepresidentoftheAmericanPsychological Associationin1998.Duringhisterm,hedrewtogethertheexistingknowledgeabout thepositivesideoflifeandignitedtheprofessionsinterestinfindingoutmore. Researchhasnowdemonstratedthatitispossibletobecomehappierregardlessof oneslifecircumstancesortemperament.[SeetheBlackDogInstitutefactsheeton Happinessformoreinformation]. Inhisbook,AuthenticHappiness:UsingtheNewPositivePsychologytoRealizeYour PotentialforLastingFulfillment,Seligmanoutlinesthreewaystoincreasehappiness: getmorepleasureoutoflife,becomemoreengagedinwhatyoudoandfindwaysof makingyourlifefeelmoremeaningful.

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Practicalstrategiestoincreaseyourlevelofhappiness

Enhancingpleasure
Savouring:Savouringistheawarenessofpleasureandofgivingdeliberateconscious attentiontotheexperienceofpleasure.FredB.BryantandJosephVeroffofLoyola Universityhaveidentifiedfivetechniquesthatpromotesavouring: Sharingwithothers.Seekoutotherstosharetheexperienceandtellothershow muchyouvaluethemoment.Thisisthesinglestrongestpredictorofthelevelof pleasure. Memorybuilding.Takementalphotographs,orevenaphysicalsouveniroftheevent, andreminisceaboutitlaterwithothers.

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Positivepsychology
Selfcongratulation.Dontbeafraidofpride.Tellyourselfhowgreatyouareand rememberhowlongyouhavewaitedforthistohappen. Sharpeningperception.Focusoncertainelementsandblockoutothers,likeclosing youreyesandlisteningtothemusic. Absorption.Allowyourselftobecometotallyimmersedandtrynottothink,just sense. Mindfulness:Mindlessnesspervadesmuchofhumanactivity.Weactandinteract automatically,withoutmuchthinking.Mindfulattentiontothepresentmomentcan bedevelopedthroughmeditationandmindfulnessbasedtherapies.Through mindfulnesswecanfocusourperspectiveandsharpenourexperienceofthepresent moment. Avoidforminghabits:Rapidlyrepeatedindulgenceinthesamepleasuredoesnot work.Neuronsarewiredtorespondtonovelevents,andnottofireiftheeventsdo notprovidenewinformation.Seekoutavarietyofexperiencesandspreadout pleasurableeventsovertime.Surpriseyourselforotherswithsmallpresentsof pleasure.

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Engagement
NurturerelationshipsYourincomelevelhasasurprisinglysmalleffectonyour happiness.Themostfundamentalfindingfrompositivepsychologyisthatstrong personalrelationshipshavethegreatestimpactonyoursatisfactionwithlife.Make surethatyouinvesttimeandenergyinyourfriendsandfamily. IdentifyanduseyourstrengthsThinkaboutyourpersonalstrengthsandhowyou mightusetheminyoureverydaylife.Areyoualeader,playful,fair,curiousor original?Doyouhaveagoodsenseofperspective?Doyoulovelearning?Areyou genuine?Areyougoodatteamwork?Thosewithinternetaccesscantakeanonline testonMartinSeligmanswebsitewww.authentichappiness.orgtoexploreyour personalstrengths.Cultivateanduseyourstrengthsatwork,infamilylifeandinyour leisuretime. SeekoutflowexperiencesThroughhisresearch,MihalyCsikszentmihalyisoughtto understandhowpeoplefeltwhentheymostenjoyedthemselves,andwhy.He developedtheconceptofflowwhichdescribesastateofjoy,creativityandtotal involvement.Problemsseemtodisappearandthereisafeelingoftranscendence. Flowisthewaypeopledescribetheirstateofmindwhentheyaredoingsomething foritsownsake.Someactivitiesconsistentlyproducedflow,suchassport,games, artandhobbies.Hehasidentifiedthekeyingredientstocreatingtheseoptimal experiences:
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Thetaskischallengingandrequiresskill Weconcentrate Therearecleargoals Wegetimmediatefeedback Wehavedeep,effortlessinvolvement Thereisasenseofcontrol Oursenseofselfvanishes Timestops

Positivepsychology
Csikszentmihalyisaysworkandfamilylifecanprovideimportantopportunitiesfor flow.Whenpeoplewereinflow,eitheratworkorinleisure,theyreportedamuch morepositiveexperience.Whenchallengesandskillswerebothhighpeoplefelt happier,morecheerful,strongerandmoreactive.Theyconcentratedmore,feltmore creativeandsatisfied.

Findingmeaning
Keepagratitudediarytakethetimeeachdaytowritedownthreethingsthatwent wellandwhy.Thiscauseshappinesslevelstoincreaseinalastingway. Thankamentorwritealetterofthankstosomeonetowhomyouoweadebtof gratitudesuchasateacherorgrandparent.Thenvisitthepersonandreadtheletter tothem.Peoplewhodothisaremeasurablyhappierformorethanamonth. Learntoforgiveletgoofangerandresentmentbywritingaletterofforgivenessto apersonwhohaswrongedyou.Inabilitytoforgiveisassociatedwithpersistent rumination. Weighupyourlifetaketimeoutoccasionallytoconsiderhowyouaregoinginthe majorfacetsofyourlifesuchasfamily,work,finances,healthandplay.Reflectonthe progressyouaremakinginworkingtowardsyourmajorlifegoals.Makechangesin yourlifetomatchyourpriorities. Performsmallactsofkindnessperformingfivekindsactsaweek,especiallyallin oneday,createsameasurableboosttohappinesslevels.Givingnotonlymakesyou feelgoodaboutyourself,itenhancesyourconnectionwithothersandcanbringyou positivefeedbackfromothers. Findaconnectiontoalargerpurposereligion,philosophyorspiritualityarea sourceofmeaningformanypeople.Buildalifebasedonlargerprinciplessuchas increasingknowledge(teachers,parents,journalists,scientists)orservingothers (policeofficers,charityworkers,carers).Useyourpersonalstrengthsinavoluntary capacity. TheseandotherstrategiesaredetailedinMartinSeligmansbookAuthentic Happiness:UsingtheNewPositivePsychologytoRealizeYourPotentialforLasting Fulfillment.

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Wheretogetmoreinformation
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PositivePsychology PositivePsychology Seligman,MEP(2002)AuthenticHappiness:Usingthenewpositivepsychologytorealize yourpotentialforlastingfulfilment.FreePress Lyubomirsky,S(2008)TheHowofHappiness:AScientificApproachtoGettingtheLifeYou Want.PenguinPutnam. Flow CsikzentmihalyiM(1991)Flow:ThePsychologyofOptimalExperience.HarperPerennial CsikzentmihalyiM(1997)FindingFlow:ThePsychologyofEngagementwithEverydayLife. BasicBooks

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Positivepsychology
Gratitude EmmonsR(2007).Thanks!:HowtheNewScienceofGratitudeCanMakeYouHappier. HoughtonMifflin Altruism PostS,NeimarkJ(2007)WhyGoodThingsHappentoGoodPeople.Broadway PositivePsychologyAcademicresources BryantFB,VeroffJ(2006).Savoring:ANewModelofPositiveExperience.LawrenceErlbaum Associates KahnemanD,DienerE,Schwarz(eds)(2003).WellBeing:TheFoundationsofHedonic Psychology.RussellSageFoundationPublications KeyesCLM,HaidtJ(eds)(2003).Flourishing:PositivePsychologyandtheLifeWellLived. AmericanPsychologicalAssociation PetersenC(2006).APrimerinPositivePsychology.OxfordUniversityPress PetersenC(2004)CharacterStrengthsandVirtues:AHandbookandClassification.Oxford UniversityPress. SnyderCR(2005)HandbookofPositivePsychology.OxfordUniversityPress TheJournalofPositivePsychology.PublishedbyRoutledge

FactSheet

UsefulWebsites
TheUniversityofPennsylvania,PositivePsychologyCentre www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu CentreforConfidenceandWellbeing,Scotland www.centreforconfidence.co.uk TimeMagazinearticle:TheNewScienceofHappiness.Jan2005 www.time.com/time/2005/happiness/ 6PartBBCSeries:TheScienceofHappiness.April2006 www.news.bbc.co.uk
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BlackDogInstitute HospitalRoad,PrinceofWalesHospital,RandwickNSW2031 (02)93824530/(02)93824523 www.blackdoginstitute.org.auEmail:blackdog@blackdog.org.au


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Page 4 of 4 This fact sheet may be freely downloaded, copied or distributed on condition no change is made to the content. The information in this fact sheet is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.